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Water: Marine Debris

Monitoring and Research

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Manta Net
EPA scientists on-board EPA's OSV Bold use manta nets to collect and research marine debris
EPA is involved in a number of marine debris monitoring and research efforts. Monitoring and research efforts are integral tools for addressing marine debris. The data gathered through monitoring and research can help to identify the types, sources, and movement of marine debris. Marine debris monitoring and research also can help to identify effective management strategies and solutions.

The following is a list of EPA monitoring and research efforts related to marine debris:

National Marine Debris Monitoring Program

The National Marine Debris Monitoring Program was a five-year statistical study that used volunteers to collect marine debris from beaches around the country. The study was designed to assess marine debris status and trends from land-based and ocean-based marine debris.

Ocean Survey Vessel Bold

The Ocean Survey Vessel Bold is EPA's only ocean and coastal monitoring vessel. The OSV Bold is used to monitor and assess impacts on ocean and coastal waters from land-based and ocean-based human activities and naturally occurring ecological disturbances. EPA is starting to use the OSV Bold to conduct surveys of marine debris at sea.

Beach Monitoring

The Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health (BEACH) Program was implemented to improve public health and environmental protection for beach users as well as supply the public with information on beach water quality.

National Pollution Discharge Elimination System

The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program regulates water pollution by monitoring point sources (discrete conveyances like pipes) that release pollutants into United States waters.

Assessing and Monitoring Floatable Debris

Assessing and Monitoring Floatable Debris supports states, tribes, and local governments in creating their own assessment and monitoring programs for floatable debris in coastal recreation waters.

Harbor Studies Program

The Harbor Studies Program (Composition of Floating Debris in Harbours of the United States (PDF) (18 pp, 531K, About PDF) ) consisted of field surveys from 1988-1990, during which EPA assessed the types of marine debris found in effluent from storm sewers in harbors across the country. The information from the study allowed EPA to partner with industry to better control the release of plastic pellets during manufacturing and transportation operations.


Storm Drain Sentries Program

The Storm Drain Sentries Program was an outreach campaign targeted at preventing floatable debris from washing down storm drains. The program involved more than 90 organizations stenciling educational messages on storm drains nationwide. For more information on the Storm Drain Sentries Program, see Assessing and Monitoring Floatable Debris. More information on stenciling storm drains can also be found through the Girl Scouts Water Drop Patch Project or the EPA Non-point Source Toolkit Storm Drain Stenciling Program (PDF) (2 pp, 140K, About PDF).



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